Dr. Anthea Senior just completed the University of Alberta’s Gold College leadership program. This program is designed for academic leaders with the goal to develop the mindset, knowledge, and skills needed to be agile academic leaders.
Having completed the program this June, and due to interest from other’s Dr. Senior has outlined the benefits and impact the program.
“I would encourage anyone who is seriously interested in exploring their values, having an open mind to different perspectives and possibly finding out some rather uncomfortable truths about yourself to consider taking the course,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity and I’m glad I did it.”
What is Gold College (GC)?
GC is a leadership development course designed to address key areas of leadership within the University of Alberta context. It consists of 12 face-to face sessions held between September and June, with web based per and post session homework in between.
The goal of GC is to help develop leaders from within the university community by exploring the theories and practicalities of leading effectively. Participants explore topics such as value based leadership, building effective teams, leading strategically and conflict management.
What’s different about Gold College from other leadership Courses?
I think what makes the gold college experience different is to 2 components:
1. Course content, materials, quality of speakers, gold college admin team
2. The small cohort of colleagues that you grow, learn, practice, confide in
As the course builds throughout the carefully structured and planned topics, so does your relationship with your classmates and the gold college team. That is what makes it different I think from other leadership courses. Also it has been tried and tested in our university setting for many years. First in FOMD and then to all university faculties and staff. This gives it a backbone of relevance, as the course contributors/presenters are familiar with the university environment and its particular challenges.
What did you learn from it?
Looking back through each of the modules there is not one that I could say that I didn’t get something from. The diagrams, “cheat sheets’ handouts etc. of processes-I use them frequently. Recently we had a conflict situation so I referred to the different approaches for managing conflict that we had learnt in GC. I tried an approach that otherwise I wouldn’t have considered. (My usual tendency is “avoid conflict” and stew!). So the strategies and tools that you learn you really can put into practice.
I also realized the difference between working groups, committees and teams. Building a functional “team”-that is a challenge as a true “team” is really a rare occurrence and takes considerable time and effort. I also leant that within the university environment in particular facilitative leadership is crucial. Every single person at the School has a crucial and unique role to play, and a key role in leadership is identifying where people will flourish and grow best. It’s attainable though, because as a group we have similar goals and motivations.
Would you encourage others to consider taking the Course?
To be honest it was with a sizeable dose of skepticism and trepidation that I attended Gold College. I was more than a little worried that I had signed up for a year of warm fuzzy, touchy feely, falling back into each others arms psychotherapy! However I would encourage anyone who is seriously interested in exploring their values, having an open mind to different perspectives and possibly finding out some rather uncomfortable truths about yourself to consider taking the course. It is a lot of additional work on top of our normal workloads and a considerable time commitment, but it really was a great opportunity and I’m glad I did it.
There is no cookie cutter formula for being good leader. Some things you will be inherently good at, and in my case many things not so much! But the good news is that leadership can be learnt. With effort, vulnerability, reflection, practice and patience you can improve. Gold College can provide you with the practical tools and people who can support and mentor you if you want to grow as a leader.